Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz again defended fellow White House hopeful Donald Trump’s controversial remarks on illegal immigration Wednesday, though offered no details about what the two will discuss in a private meeting later in the day.
“I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s,” Cruz told reporters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, following a press conference on the Export-Import Bank of the United States. “I think Donald Trump is bringing a bold, brash voice to this presidential race.”
Among the crowded GOP presidential pack, Cruz was virtually the only one to not condemn Trump’s remarks on immigration – specifically that “when Mexico sends its people,” they bring drugs and crime. Quite to the contrary, Cruz said on Fox and Friends last month that Trump “speaks the truth” and later “salute[d]” him on Meet the Press “for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration.”
Trump said on msnbc’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning that Cruz had called him for a meeting, but that he didn’t know what it would be about. The Cruz campaign has not responded to msnbc’s request for comment or confirmation, but Trump’s spokesman told msnbc the sit-down in New York City would be private.
Cruz is also scheduled to sit down Wednesday afternoon with CNBC’s John Harwood at the network’s Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York City. Earlier in the day, Cruz appeared alongside fellow Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to praise Congress’ decision last month to allow the charter for the Export-Import Bank of the United States to expire. The 81-year-old institution, commonly known as Ex-Im, acted as the export credit agency for the U.S. government and has been criticized for disproportionately supporting big business.
Cruz called Ex-Im a “classic example of corporate welfare” and vowed to use “any and all procedural tools” to ensure it stays dead.
“When it comes to campaign season, every Republican is a conservative,” Cruz said. “Well now, when push comes to shove, we discover if people are merely ‘campaign conservatives,’ or if they actually are going to be practicing conservatives, consistent conservatives.”
Asked about his meeting with Trump, Cruz demurred: “Let’s keep the questions on Export-Import bank.”
Following the press conference, however, Cruz was more receptive to speaking about Trump, whom he suggested was being unfairly maligned by fellow White House hopefuls.
“One of the reasons you’re seeing so many 2016 candidates go out of their way to smack Donald Trump is they don’t like a politician that speaks directly about the challenges of illegal immigration. They don’t like a politician who speaks directly about sanctuary cities about the law enforcement and safety and security issues that are raised,” Cruz said. “Indeed, many of the politicians who are running out of their way to smack Donald Trump have for years or even decades been advocates of vocal amnesty. I for one am grateful that Donald Trump is highlighting these issues.”